signed and dated 1988 (2014)
oil on canvas
36” x 36” (91 cm x 91 cm)
Provenance: Private Collection, Manila
With her signature monochrome style, Johanna Helmuth introduces us to a world of perpetual frustration. Helmuth confronts viewers with frank depictions of domestic states of mind. Roughly hewn subjects populate her canvases, the coarse finish resulting from her use of a palette knife to apply paint. She describes the process of slathering pigment onto the canvas as cathartic.
This austerity directs viewers to focus on the figure, the discord and drama evinced in her awkward poses. Helmuth’s art is the archaeology of urban experience transcending stereotypes—there are some very narrow views of what constitutes modern and contemporary art in the Philippines. From the world of everyday urban details that surround our lives, she recasts experiences of time and place.
An unidentified city girl leans on a table. She conveys an air of ennui, of slight disenchantment with domestic existence. The girl’s eyes are almost closed, somewhat forlornly, her mind in deep but somewhat tentative thought.